CITY DIARY: Corporate trauma is not over until the fat lady....

CITY DIARY

Lord Young of Graffham is spotted amid scenes of murder, mayhem and treachery. This time, however, the ousted chairman of Cable & Wireless is enjoying a performance of Puccini's Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - with the obligatory youthful female companion.

Not that it is unusual to see the former Cabinet minister and director of Salomon Brothers in the company of a bunch of prima donnas. The man who once boasted that he worked at C&W and lunched at Salomons is a director of the Royal Opera House Trust. Besides, a man needs a break from the rigours of negotiating a massive redundancy package.

However, Lord Young was not the only outgoing chairman in the audience. Not eight feet away sat Michael Jackaman, who on Monday stood down as chairman of Allied Domecq. Both looked suitably recovered from their respective traumas.

So! Only a piffling 0.4 per cent of the proxies cast at yesterday's Granada extraordinary general meeting were against approving the bid for Forte. Could this represent the combined voting power of Granada shareholders Sir Anthony Tennant, the Old Etonian chairman of Christies International, and George Proctor? Both, you understand, are on Forte's board.

We should be told.

The feeling in accountancy circles is that the Inland Revenue is planning a series of benders over the festive season. Andrew Shaw, a partner with Kingston Smith, writes to tell us that the vampires have increased the tax-free limit for Christmas parties.

Strictly speaking, any staff party gives rise to a taxable benefit for those attending. However, the Revenue operates a concession where the benefit is not taxed if the expenditure on the bash is kept below certain levels. The pounds 50-a-head limit is now raised to pounds 75. And it gets better. The Revenue is now allowing companies to split the expenditure between more than one annual event, opening the way for tax-free parties throughout the year.

"No doubt the tax inspectors were planning their own Christmas parties and realised the costs involved,'' suggests Mr Shaw.

A courageous joke. The Revenue is not known for its sense of humour and the accountant can more than likely look forward to a thorough investigation of his affairs.

Pearson shares rose yesterday on the news of the boardroom shakeup which should see, inter alia, the arrival of John Makinson in the finance director's chair. Pearson has not yet confirmed the appointment - and quite right too. It is probably still trying to establish that the former Financial Times hack is no longer in possession of his original calculator.

It transpires that when he was a lowly mortal writing the FT's company analysis Mr Makinson gained a reputation for being incapable of calculating a price/earnings ratio correctly. "He insisted on using this lousy calculator,'' revealed a former colleague.

The City is taken to the cleaners as Cambridge put on an error-strewn display at Twickenham for the rugby union varsity match. The spread betters had the light blues as firm favourites, offering a contract for a Cambridge win by a margin of eight to 11 points. In the end Cambridge scraped home 21 points to 19.

One bookie, Sporting Index, took 500 bets at an average of pounds 20 a point. That's a good chunk of this year's bonuses down the pan already. And with only one bookie.

The San Francisco Airport Hilton continues to blaze a trail on the marketing front with a promotion that London can only dream about. The 527-room hotel is charging guests the same room rate as the lowest temperature in the city that day. Given that the West Coast temperature is often in the 40s at this time of year, it comes as no surprise that the exercise has proven a big attraction. The hotel's normal room rate is

$140 a day.

Not the sort of thing that the Hilton management can contemplate at Heathrow. It would have been paying guests pounds 7 a night for the last week.

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